Raymond Holland, a former Baltimore deputy transportation commissioner and Maryland's first African-American licensed professional land surveyor, died Oct. 26 at Seasons Hospice at Northwest Hospital after a long illness. The Reisterstown resident was 77.
"My father was a quiet pioneer," said Mr. Holland's son Gary Holland of Atlanta. "He made inroads in society quietly. He made his mark on society quietly.
"He experienced a lifetime of achievement and set quiet examples for others, especially his two sons."
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore's Pimlico neighborhood, Mr. Holland was the son of Raymond "Skeets" Holland, a longtime jockey and exercise rider at Maryland horse racing tracks, and Clara Rideoutt Holland.
Mr. Holland was a 1954 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School. He attended the former Maryland State College, now known as the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studied civil engineering.
Mr. Holland worked for Baltimore government for more than three decades, rising from a junior engineering aide for surveys and records to deputy commissioner of transportation. He retired in 1992 after also serving as a division chief in the public works department.
He also held the distinction of becoming the state's first African-American licensed professional land surveyor in 1973, according to his family. Mr. Holland had a successful private surveying business, which he ran for about 10 years after his retirement.
"I always saw my father as a man who simply values hard work and what results from it," Gary Holland said. "And he wanted to set an example. It wasn't about ambition; it was about being responsible and doing the right thing.
"My father did a lot of things for a lot of people and while at the same time he was not looking for any recognition."
Mr. Holland belonged to the National Technical Association, the Maryland Society of Surveyors and the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, among other groups.
His family says Mr. Holland was the first African-American to try out for the football team at the University of Maryland, College Park, earning him a feature article in the April 1956 issue of Jet magazine.
Mr. Holland did not make the team, but he went on to foster a longtime love of golf. He belonged to several golf clubs and supported the junior golf programs at Carroll Park and Forest Park golf courses.
Mr. Holland was a responsible and creative man who went out of his way to help others, said his wife of 54 years, the former Catherine Peaker. The two met at the Morgan State University campus, where Mrs. Holland was a student.
"He was mainly a person who helped others to solve their problems," Mrs. Holland said.
Mr. Holland was honorably discharged from the Army Reserves in 1966 after serving for six years and earning the rank of staff sergeant.
"Growing up, Pops seemed like a tough guy, but we always had fun," Christopher Holland said. "He took us to places like Disney World. He would spoil us rotten, but at the same time, he didn't let us get away with anything. He had a good balance between keeping us kids in line and letting us have fun."
Services for Mr. Holland were held Tuesday at St. James'. He is interred at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore.
In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. Holland is survived by a step-granddaughter, Asia Myers of Hitachinaka, Japan; sisters Carolyn Cole of Catonsville and Teresa Holland of Baltimore; a brother, James Holland of Upper Marlboro; and an aunt, Shirley Gee of Baltimore.